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Dr. Didac Ferrer-Balas ERSCP 2019/Keynote Speakers/Dr. Didac Ferrer-Balas

Dr. Didac Ferrer-Balas (Barcelona, 1974) graduated as an industrial & materials engineer since 1997. He obtained a doctorate in materials science in 2001 from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC-Barcelona Tech). Since year 2000, he has been in charge of sustainability management at the University, with a wide number of projects in curriculum development, sustainable education, sustainable management, interdisciplinary research and communication. He is currently the head of the Innovation and Community Office at UPC, working on issues as sustainability, gender, inclusion, cooperation or collaboration, with a special focus as coordinator of the Nexus24 collaborative communities programme.

He is co-author of books as “What is Sustainable Technology”, and “Materials and Sustainable Development”, and has taught in the Masters of Sustainability at UPC, in the fields of sustainable organizations, industrial ecology and sustainable technology. He also has been member of the editorial boards of Journal of Cleaner Production and of the journal Sustainability Science and in the scientific committees and chairs of various international conferences (EESD, AGS, EMSU).

He is also co-founder (and was innovation director) of Tarpuna, a non-profit cooperative that creates social inclusion through sustainability projects in the fields of social fabrication, social farming, fuel poverty, collaborative consumption, among other emerging fields. He's been advising the Barcelona City Council for the public FabLabs network (Ateneus de fabricació), among other collaborations.

Specialties & research interests:

  • Sustainability in higher Education
  • Social Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Collaborative organisations
  • Public innovation
  • Creative and resilient communities

Astract title: The path towards a sustainable community. A collaborative approach inspired by living systems

After working for sustainability both from the university and in the community for more than 20 years, I am profoundly convinced that transforming our society towards sustainability is not fundamentally a matter of availability of knowledge, but depends on the type of relationships and organizational systems we build and use to develop our goals.

The good news is that there is an inspirational model in nature. Living systems have succeeded to survive through million years thanks to some fundamental principles as interdependence, cooperation, self-organization, recycling, flexibility and diversity. How can we learn from living systems and add human intention on the top to drive the urgent transition humanity needs?

When we apply them, those principles can help us to transform any community, as our schools, neighbourhoods, companies or universities. But, how to do it? Can we manage those transitions? What is key in the toolbox that sustainability professionals need today? Are we educating our students for that?

In that talk I will share the example of energy efficiency success case at UPC carried out in the period 2011-14. This successful experience inspired us tremendously, and we started building a new operative system to manage the university on a collaborative mode, called Nexus24. After 5 years of experiences, I will show examples of the potential of collaboration in communities and share some of the learning, how we manage and measure it.

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Dr. Didac Ferrer

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain